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ous appellations, charging their adversaries with horrid opinions, and then reproaching them for the want of charity; et neuter falso.- , : In order to remove these prejudices, I have thought nothing could be more effectual, than to describe the sentiments of a church-of-England man, with respect to religion and governinent. This I shall endeavour to do, in such a manner, as may not be liable to the least objection from either party, and which, I am confident, would be afsented to by great numbers in both, if they were not misted to those mutual misrepresenta.tions, by such motives as they would be ashamed to own. . .
. . . noin
I shall begin with religion.
And here, though it makes an odd sound, 'yet it is necessary to say, that whoever profeffeth himfelf a member of the church of England, ought to believe a God, and his Providence, together with revealed religion, and the divinity of Chrift. For befides those many thousands, who (to speak in the phrase of divines) do practically deny all this by the immorality of their lives, there is no small number, who, in their conversation and writings, directly, or by consequence, endeavour to overthrow it :- yet all these place themfelves in the list of the national church, though, at the same time (as it is highly reasonable) they are great sticklers for liberty of conscience. :: - To enter upon particulars : A church-of-England man has a true veneration for the scheme e
stablifhed among us of ecclesiastic government; and though he will not determine, whether Epifaa copacy be of divine right, he is fure it is most am: greeable to primitive institution ; fittest of all o. thers, for preserving order and purity, and, under its present regulations, best calculated for our civil ftate : "he should therefore think the abolithment of that order among us, would prové a mighty scandal and corruption to our faith, and manifestly dangerous to our monarchy; nay, he would defend it by arms against all tbe powers on earth, except our own legislature; in which case he would submit as to a general calamity, a dearth or a pestilence.. . :
As to rites and ceremonies, and forms of prayer, he allows there might be some ufeful alterations; and more, which in the prospect of uniting Christians might be very supportable, as things declared in their own nature indifferent; to which he would therefore readily comply, if the clergy, or (though this be not so fair a method) if the legifature should direct : yet, at the same time, he cannot altogether blame the former for their unwillingness to consent to any alteration ; which, beside the trouble, and perhaps disgrace, would certainly never produce the good effects intended by it. The only condition that could make it prudent and just for the clergy to comply in altering the ceremonial, or any other indifferent part, would be a firm resolution in the legiflature to interpose, by fome strict and effectual laws, to
prevent the rising and spreading of new fects, how plausible foever, for the future; else there must never be an end; and it would be to act like a man who should pull down and change the ornaments of his house, in compliance with every one who was disposed to find fault as he passed by; which, besides the perpetual trouble and expence, would very much damage, and perhaps, in time, destroy the building. Sects in a ftate feem only tolerated with any reason, be-, cause they are already spread; and because it would not be agreeable with so mild a government, or so pure a religion as ours, to use vio- , lent methods against great numbers of mistaken people, while they do not manifestly endanger the constitution of either. But the greatest advocates for general liberty of conscience, will allow, that they ought to be checked in their beginnings, if they will allow them to be an evil at all, or, which is the same thing, if they will only grant it were better for the peace of the state, that there should be none. But while the clergy consider the natural temper of mankind in general, or of our own country in particular, what alsurances can they have, that any compliances they shall make, will remove the evil of difsention, while the liberty still continues of profefsing whatever new opinions we please? Or how can it be imagined, that the body of dissenting teachers, who must be all undone by such a re. volution, will not cast about for some new objec
tions to withhold their flocks, and draw in fresh profelytes by some further innovations or refinements ?
Upon these reasons, he is for tolerating such different forms in religious worship, as are already admitted, but by no means for leaving it in the power of those who are tolerated, to advance their own models upon the ruin of what is already established; which it is natural for all secls to defire, and which they cannot be justified by any consistent principles, if they do not endeavour; and yet, which they cannot fucceed in, without the utmost danger to the public peace.
To prevent these inconveniencies, he thinks it highly just, that all rewards of trust, 'profit, or dignity, which the state leaves in the disposal of the administration, should be given only to those whose principles direct them to preserve the conftitution in all its parts. In the late affair of occasional conformity, the general argument of those who were against it, was not, to deny it an evil in itself, but that the remedy proposed, was violent, untimely, and improper ; which is the Bishop of Salisbury's * opinion, in the speech he made and published against the bill. But, however just their fears or complaints might have been upon that score, he thinks it a little too gross and precipitate, to employ their writers already in arguments for repealing the sacramental teft, upon no wiser a maxim, than that no man VOL. II. i I
should, * Dr. Burnet.
should, on the account of conscience, be depriv, ed the liberty of serving his country; a topic which may be equally applied to admit Papifts, Atheists, Mahometans, Heathens, and Jews. If the church wants members of its own to employ in the fervice of the public, or be fo unhappily contrived, as to exclude from its communion fuch persons who are likeliest to have great abili. ties, it is time it should be altered, and reduced into fome more perfect, or at least more popular form : but, in the mean while, it is not altogether improbable, that when those who dislike the conftitution, are so very zealous in their offers for the service of their country, they are not wholly unmindful of their party, or of themselves.
The Dutch, whose practice is so often quoted to prove and celebrate the great advantages of a general liberty of conscience, have yet a national religion professed by allwhọ bear office among them.. But why should they be a precedent for us, either in religion or government? Our country differs from theirs, as well in situation, fóil, and productions of nature, as in the genius and complexion of inhabitants. They are a commonwealth founded on a sudden, by a desperate attempt, in a desperate condition-; not formed or digested into a regular fyftem, by mature thought and reason, but huddled up under the preffure of sudden exigencies; calculated for no long duration, and hitherto fubfisting by accident in the midst of contending powers, who cannot yet a